Frequently Asked Questions
General fieldwork questions
What is the recording
period for the breeding fieldwork?
Breeding season fieldwork
runs from 1st April to 31st July inclusive. The
recording period is divided into an early period in
April/May and a late period in June/July, though we
recommend late period visits be done in June if at all
possible because bird activity tends to tail off in July
Do I need to register
to do the Atlas?
No, anyone can submit
Roving Records and there is no need to register in
advance. However, to use the online system and submit
these records online to see instant results you will
need to register to get a BTO online username and
password. This is very easy to do
To do a Timed Tetrad Visit you must first speak to your
Regional Organiser to get an available square. It is not
essential to be an online user but again we very much
encourage this because results can be seen much more
Who is my Regional
Click here to determine who is
How do I give a full
A 10-km grid reference
denotes a 10km by 10km square of the relevant (British
or Irish) Ordnance Survey national grids. A full 10-km
grid reference comprises a two letter prefix followed by
two digits. You can add a single letter suffix to
further denote the tetrad (2km by 2km grid square), e.g.
Click here for a worked example of how to give a
What are tetrads?
Tetrads are 2km by 2km
squares. There are 25 tetrads in each 10-km square and
each is identified by the grid reference of the 10-km
square (e.g. SK45) plus a single letter suffix to
identify the tetrad (e.g. SK45B). Tetrad codes run from
A to Z (excluding O) from the SW (bottom left) corner to
the NE (top right) corner as shown in the grid example.
For more information on identifying tetrads
I've found a rare
breeding bird. How do you treat confidential records?
Many formerly rare
species are now much more widespread or now benefit from
increased protection. Unfortunately, some species are
still subject to persecution or egg collecting. In
conjunction with the British and Irish Rare Bird
Breeding Panel the Bird Atlas has developed a protocol
for how accurately we will map records of confidential
species. Basically we will only map certain species at
coarse scales so as not to give away the precise
breeding location. Some species will not be mapped under
any circumstances. Any more precise information provided
for the Bird Atlas project will remain confidential.
Where can I get more
to view additional Roving Recorder forms that can be
printed directly. If you require a large number, perhaps
to distribute to birdwatchers, please contact the Atlas
Coordinator (mailto, or call 01842 750050). Timed Tetrad
Visit forms are only available by signing up to a tetrad
through your RO. To view field instructions for a TTV
Roving Recorder questions
of records do you want?
recorder forms can be used to submit any bird
distribution and breeding evidence records. You might
decide to go out and thoroughly cover a tetrad or 10-km
square and use the Rover form to record all the species
you see; you could use it to record a flock of swans
seen from the motorway whilst on a long drive; even just
to submit a record of a Sparrowhawk hunting through your
garden. Basically any and all records count because they
all contribute towards the cumulative species list for
know the tetrad. Is 10-km precise enough?
cannot be certain which tetrad you were in then please
submit the record at 10-km resolution. For more
information on identifying tetrads
How do I
give a grid reference?
A 10-km grid
reference denotes a 10km by 10km square of the relevant
(British or Irish) Ordnance Survey national grids. A
full 10-km grid reference comprises a two letter prefix
followed by two digits. You can add a single letter
suffix to further denote the tetrad (2km by 2km grid
square), e.g. SK45B.
Click here for a worked example of how to give a
Do I need
to provide breeding evidence for every record?
No - just
record what you see, but by all means go back to the
site on a later date or spend longer observing if you
think the species might be breeding. But always remember
the welfare of the birds must come first and do not
cause undue disturbance. You do not need to find nests
to confirm breeding.
Click here to read more about evidence of breeding
Can I do
both Roving Recording and a Timed Tetrad Visit?
already doing Roving Recording, contact your Regional
Organiser to find out which tetrads are available for
Timed Tetrad Visits.
Click here to contact your Regional
Evidence of Breeding questions
Do I need to provide breeding
Yes - record the highest level of
breeding evidence you see/hear whilst recording in the
evidence of breeding?
years Atlases have categorised records according to
'Possible', 'Probable' and 'Confirmed' breeding and have
mapped these differently so it is possible to see, for
example, early colonists that are not yet breeding, or
the edge of a range where a species is contracting and
now failing to breed. The standard definitions identify
several types of sightings you may make that constitute
each category of breeding. For example, a single bird
singing in suitable habitat constitutes 'Possible
breeding', whereas a bird carrying food or faeces
constitutes 'Confirmed breeding'. Many of these types of
evidence are things we see every day whilst birdwatching
and surveying and we are seeking these records to help
determine the category of breeding for each species in
each 10-km square. To see the full list of definitions
and read more,
I see definitions of breeding evidence codes?
Click here to see the full list of definitions and
read more about evidence of breeding.
do concerning Schedule 1 species?
and scarce breeding birds are protected under the
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as amended by the
Environmental Protection Act 1990 and it is an offence
to visit a nest of these species without a licence. A
full list of these species and details of what to do if
you encounter one of these species is given
Health and Safety issues
the BTO's Health and Safety guidelines